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Old 09-03-2010, 12:06 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Almost ready to buy! Need advice on hitches/brake controllers..are brand names best?

Good morning. My husband and I are on threshold of purchasing our very first TT this weekend. It's a SV 264 with an unloaded weight of approx. 4200lbs. Our TV is a 2006 Toyota 4runner 4.7L. V8 and has a max towing capacity of 7300lbs and a GVCW of 12,000, so we should be well within our limits...however from reading this forum I have also understood that there is more to towing than just if the TV can pull the trailer weight. The 4runner's wheelbase is very narrow at approx. 110"....which is why we downsized from the still ultraweight 29' and went to the 26' Surveyor we are now considering. We own and have recently towed our 24' boat (plus 2 more feet for the trailer) which together weighs approx. 6000lbs without fuel or any of the gear we load it with! We definitely knew it way back there, but the 4runner handled the load surprisingly well (and that was without a WD hitch). The boat trailer only has surge brakes so I am excited to also get "real" trailer brakes.

Which brings me to my real question regarding hitch/ sway/ brake controllers. The hitch/sway systems I have been hearing about over and over are: Reese Dual Cam, Hensley Arrow, and Equilizer. How important is it to get a brand name over a less recognized name that the dealer may carry in stock? Our dealer will install a (never heard of name) system for $500 or they also carry the Equilizer and will install for $895 (which seems high to me?). How much should we expect to pay? I found the Reese sytem for $600 online and someone is selling a used one on Craigslist for $225 but I have no idea how to install or know what is correct for our needs. Economics are important to us but our family's safety is priority #1! Is this something we need to decide on before we pick up the TT and should bring the system with us then let them install for us OR is it something that my husband and I can install ( he is fairly handy and mechanically inclined maybe a 6.5 on a 1-10 handiness scale)? What is involved in installation- is there welding, etc? Do we have to have the trailer there (I assume so) when we install or can we do part at home and part when we pick the unit up. I don't know if it matters but our TV came equipped with the towing package and the receiver is not a cheapy bumper type receiver.

As for brake controller, I know even less. I don't know what the dealer has on hand. The brand I have heard here is "prodigy"? All I know is it is important that the braking system is variable rather than fixed?

Any and all advice is appreciated. We are so excited to get our TT and start camping, I just want to do it right the first time.

Thank you!

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Old 09-03-2010, 12:12 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums Jewels. You are a step ahead of others who come here after the purchase and ask if they did the right thing. Sounds like you are on the right track. However know that pulling a boat is a little different than a trailer unless it was a really big boat as a trailer is a huge sail going down the road with lots of side area for winds gusts to catch, unlike many boats.

There are lots of knowledgeable members here when it comes to towing, you will get good advice. If you have questions about what options or accessories to order or have installed please ask.

Oh, yeah, and don't listen to a dang thing the dealer tells you. Verify everything they say with us first as time and time again we get folks here that have gotten absolutely horrid advice and information from their dealers.

"I can fix it, and if I can't fix it, I can fix it so no one can fix it!"
Ed & Wendy
2009 Georgetown 378TS | 1998 Jeep Wrangler | 1998 Skeeter ZX202C
Nights camped in 2009: 53 | Nights camped in 2010: 55
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:52 PM   #3
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Location: homebase Quitman Texas at Lake Fork
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Welcome to FR forums
I agree your a bit ahead of the game.
with hitches and wd systems, I would never go USED unless i knew the person that was selling it.
for me peace of mind of no tweaked is worth the extra cost of new.

husky is usually the dealers choice of brands, good value and lower price than reese or others...but keep in mind almost all are made by the same company.
just like anti-freeze

i have used husky wd setups and found them to be just as good as reese or any others.
if you can go visit other shops that sell hitches and take em for a test drive so to speak, get what is easy for you and your family to use.
most important is to setup the hitch to be towing your rig level and with proper amount of weight transfer to the front wheels.
if your dealer is worth their salt they will help get it right on the lot before you leave, with ball tilt and proper weight transfer. reese has a great tutorial on their site for getting it right.
sway control is a definite with any brand.
brake controllers and read and go with what makes you feel best
I have used prodigy controllers since 1996, i go with what i know
now my truck like the one before has a factory controller and they are light years ahead of add ons
i use a prodigy in the RV to take care of the flat bed trailer .

congrats on a the new RV

PS i buy a ton of stuff from etrailer, and they also have great information on their site to guide you, plus they actually answer posted questions
Living in the Piney Woods of Texas.
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Old 09-03-2010, 08:28 PM   #4
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Location: South Louisiana
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Welcome to the forum. The DW and I recently upgraded from a popup to a 26 TT. I have learned a tremendous amount from the folks on this forum. They have saved me a great deal of pain, aggravation and expense. I would like to comment on the brake controller... GO WITH A PROPORTIONAL CONTROLLER. We had a Drawtight Activator II controller when we had the popup. The brakes on the trailer would come on at what ever level the controller was set at so as you pulled up to a stoplight you either looked like bobbleheads or you had to manually adjust the controller as you slowed down. That controller was very hard to deal with when we got the TT so I bought a Prodigy P2 after reading a great deal on this forum. What a difference! Before I would be so tense my back would start hurting after a couple hours of driving. After a very easy setup of the P2, the TT and TV stop smoothly and evenly no matter the speed or the braking. It is definitely worth the money!

I am impartial to the WD system, like it was said earlier, level and weight distributed evenly on the TV is most important.

Good luck and check back often.
Kirk, KN1B
2013 Cardinal 3800FL
2009 GMC 3500HD CC LB SRW
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Old 09-04-2010, 07:28 AM   #5
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 27
We bought the Even Brake and it seems simple to hook up and use. I was very impressed with the product support in answering a question about reported failure at high altitudes. The customer service rep responded quickly and told me that all Even Brakes with serial number higher than 7004 have been modified to eliminate this problem.
Good luck.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jewels View Post

As for brake controller, I know even less. I don't know what the dealer has on hand. The brand I have heard here is "prodigy"? All I know is it is important that the braking system is variable rather than fixed?
I think what you are talking about here is time-delayed versus proportional controllers.

Time-delayed uses a fixed amount of braking power each time you brake. Of course this power is adjustable when you set up the brake controller, but you have to make sure you match the power well to your load. These type of controllers work pretty well if you are towing the same load all the time. What many do not like about the time delayed controllers that they can make the rig jerky at times or they don't send enough power in emergency braking situations because the power level is set when you first set up the controller. Here's an example.

You set up your controller and let's say power level 6 fits your load well for making smooth stops. Now you're going down the highway and a semi passes the other direction and your trailer starts to sway a bit. You lightly tap the brakes in your truck, but the controller stills send that level 6 power to the back which is too much for a light tap and the trailer jerks against the truck. On the other end, level 6 would not be enough if you have to suddenly hit the brakes hard. You have to reach down and use the manual override to get full power on the trailer brakes.

This is what makes a proportional controller such a pleasure to use. Depending on what model, a proportional controller will either have a pendulum or accelerometer inside. All the new high-end cell phones with touch screens that turn the display when you turn the phone use an accelerometer or gyrometer inside to detect the phone's position. These devices use simple physics to read how hard you are braking. The harder you brake the more the nose of the truck dips and you are pressed into your seat belt. A proportional controller uses one of these devices to detect this momentum.

Since the controller can now read that information, it can send a proportional amount of power to the brakes so the trailer brakes evenly with the truck. A light tap of the truck brakes lightly engages the trailer brakes, no jerking. On the other end, if you slam on the truck brakes, the controller will do the same for the trailer brakes.

A lot of people are used to time delayed so they continue to use them or they do not tow often enough or far enough that they want to spend the extra for a proportional. But those that try a proportional controller almost never go back. They really are a lot smoother.

The Prodigy line of controllers that you and powerboatr mentioned are proportional controllers and are used by a ton of towers. I hope I was able to clear up some brake controller questions for you. If you have more questions feel free to ask. I'm sure myself or one of the other users could help you out.

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Old 09-09-2010, 12:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jewels View Post
The 4runner's wheelbase is very narrow at approx. 110"....which is why we downsized from the still ultraweight 29' and went to the 26' Surveyor we are now considering.
Beware that the SV 264 is 28.5' from tongue to bumper. You may not be downsizing as much as you think. I tow the sister ship to the SV 264......the SV 263. It is a long trailer, and feel like that is about the maximum of what I would be confortable towing with my 145" wheelbased F150.

The 4 Runner with a 110" wheelbase might not be the best fit for that long of a trailer. A popular length equation for trailer length is the wheelbase of a tow vehicle in inches divided by 5 is equal to the maximum total trailer length in feet. There is also a popular chart that follows closely to that equation:

110" 20' ******* 150" 30'
114" 21' ******* 154" 31'
118" 22' ******* 158" 32'
122" 23' ******* 162" 33'
126" 24' ******* 166" 34'
130" 25' ******* 170" 35'
134" 26' ******* 174" 36'
138" 27' ******* 178" 37'
142" 28' ******* 182" 38'
146" 29' ******* 186" 39'

I would think a foot or 2 discrepancy wouldn't make a big difference, but there is a 6-8' difference with the setup described in post #1.

Continue on with your homework and let us know how things go.


Chap , DW Joy, and Fur Baby Sango
2006 Ford F150 Super Cab 4x4
2008 Surveyor 263
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